CD review for Oct. 31, 2008 |

CD review for Oct. 31, 2008

Margaret Hair

I’m from Barcelona

“Who Killed Harry Houdini?”

I’m from Barcelona used to be adorable. A 29-piece collective of Swedish musicians who like to sing in unison and play tambourines, the band’s 2006 debut, “Let Me Introduce My Friends,” covered tree houses, friends from foreign places, sleeping in and not actually being from Barcelona. It was saccharine, and it was awesome.

As a follow-up, “Who Killed Harry Houdini?” is considerably less fun. There’s no reason to have 29 people in an indie pop recording studio if they’re not going to be churning out deliriously joyful music. But the band’s bulk remains – meaning “Houdini” is packed with needlessly full chorus lines and orchestral character studies. This is best expressed in “MusicKilled Me,” in which I’m from Barcelona systematically kills any remaining likeable elements of its music, with strained vocals, swishy piano vamps and a toned-down sing-along.

There are a few light-enough moments – mostly on the lead single, “Paper Planes,” with its xylophone and clarinet inserts – that give “Houdini” just enough buoyancy to be bearable, but not nearly enough to be enjoyable.

Rating: 1.5 stars

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– Margaret Hair, 4 Points